Farmers' group presses disposal of excess rice


James Konstantin Galvez

Manila Times

31 July 2010


http://www.manilati php/business- columns/22666- farmers-group- presses-disposal -of-excess- rice


A group of farmers and a nongovern-ment organization (NGO) on Friday called on the government to dispose its imported rice stocks within the next two months to prevent unfair competition with locally grown palay when the October to November harvest season comes. In a briefing, Jaime Tadeo, National Rice Farmers Council president, said the disposal of the rice stocks in state-run National Food Authority’s (NFA) warehouses will also help the poor farmers avail of cheap rice.

“The farmers even have to run to the traders for rice for their own household consumption. The NFA is swimming in rice while the farmers are inundated in loans,” Tadeo said.

The NGO said that NFA should decide now if it would give rice to the poor and sell the rest at the lowest price of P18 to push down market prices.

As of June 28, the NFA reported that the country’s total rice stock was good for 99 days.

But more imported rice continue to come in as the government bought a record 2.45 million metric tons of the staple at the beginning of the year.

“When our rice farms were devastated by the twin typhoons of Ondoy and Pepeng last year, the government gave us no choice but to sell our produce to the rice traders at a sell-out price of P10 to P11 per kilo. The NFA was not as aggressive in buying our palay then as when they went on a shopping binge of imported rice from Vietnam several months later,” said Trinidad Domingo, Pambansang Koalisyon ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) chairperson.

Domingo said the NFA under the new leadership has to buy locally grown palay and retain the buying price at P17 per kilo to boost the farmers’ incomes.

The groups challenged President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd to ensure that the government officials responsible for the current rice debacle are held criminally liable, not just for corruption but also for gross negligence and sheer incompetence.

The farmers also wanted the government to establish the correct statistical reporting and documentation to provide the executive leadership with the sound basis for appropriate action.

Jessica Reyes-Cantos, Rice Watch and Action Network lead convenor, said the bulk of the funds for commodity programs was allocated to the rice industry, but the Philippines remains dependent on imports.












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